MLK 2011

filed under Anecdotes and Stories, Current Events, Racial Diversity.

Today, I learned something new and astonishing. I learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. ad-libbed his “I Have a Dream” speech. That specific phrase, in fact, was not in the textual material to be delivered on the Washington D.C. mall that day in August 1963.

Dr. King read the first nine paragraphs of the speech as they were written.  Then, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson – whose performance had preceded Dr. King’s speech – shouted to him, “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”

Clarence B. Jones, one of Dr. King’s legal advisers and speechwriters, stood not far from him on the stage that day. According to Jones, Dr. King paused, acknowledged Jackson and then launched into the magnificent and extemporaneous oration that has come to be most closely associated with Dr. King’s enduring legacy.

Jones recently published a book entitled, Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation.  He discussed his experiences as one of Dr. King’s inner circle, as well as his take on issues of our times, in a broadcast aired on NPR’s program, Fresh Air, today.

The official MLK Holiday of 2011 is drawing to a close as this post goes up. Yet formal and informal observances will go on across the country through the week.

You do not need a formal workplace diversity initiative to take advantage of this opportunity: listen to the Jones interview and listen to the speech itself. Note your reactions. Talk about it with colleagues and associates.

It doesn’t matter where you were on that day. It doesn’t even matter if you were born yet. It doesn’t matter how many MLK holidays you’ve seen or celebrated.  There is always something new to learn from the wondrous Reverend Dr. King.

As long as the learning continues, the dream lives.

2 Responses to “MLK 2011”

  1. Willie H. Breazell, Sr.

    I am glad to see you and Dr. Vila are on the same page. More need to be done to inform DoD and Non DoD agencies and groups regarding this topic. I would say, it could start right here at home within the local school districts, city, and county government departments. Diversity is not about lowering any worth standard, it is about giving all people regardless of sex, race, religion etc., equal access. There are many leaders civil and military who mouth the words, but their deeds say something different.

  2. Jody Alyn

    Thanks for commenting on the blog, Willie, and for your thoughts about a “broad” definition of diversity.

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